A Reader's Guide to Fifty Modern European Poets

By John Pilling | Go to book overview

Umberto Saba (1883-1957)

Born Umberto Poli in Trieste, the son of a Jewish mother and a Christian father who abandoned the family two years later. Trained in a vocational school for clerical work, though he had early decided to be a writer. Wandered restlessly through Northern Italy from 1902 onwards. In 1907 met the seamstress whom he was to marry a year later. Served as an inspector of airfields in the First World War, and after the war became an antiquarian bookdealer in Trieste, buying a shop which guaranteed him a steady income. Suffered from psychological disturbances in the 1920s and underwent psychoanalysis in 1929, becoming for a time a doctrinaire Freudian. Harassed by the Fascist authorities and forced to close his shop during the Second World War; protected by Montale during his stay in Florence. Displeased by the critical neglect he encountered in the post-war years, which prompted him to write a commentary on his own poems. Died in Gorizia, near Trieste.

Although he wrote a poetry of potentially much wider appeal than his contemporaries Ungaretti and Montale, Saba remained little known outside Italy during his lifetime, and frequently ignored by the Italian literary establishment. In the absence of the critical attention he rightly believed to be his due Saba offered in his History and Chronicle of the 'Canzoniere' ( 1948) his own assessment of a body of work which, beside the extravagance of d'Annunzio on the one hand and the experiments of the 'Hermeticists' on the other, was bound to seem, in the poet's bitterly sardonic description, 'peripheral and backward'. No one who has read the best of

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A Reader's Guide to Fifty Modern European Poets
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Preface 9
  • Charles Baudelaire (1821-67) 13
  • Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-98) 23
  • Paul Verlaine (1844-96) 32
  • Tristan Corbière (1845-75) 40
  • Arthur Rimbaud (1854-91) 47
  • Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933) 56
  • Stefan George (1868-1933) 64
  • Christian Morgenstern (1871-1914) 73
  • Paul Valéry (1871-1945) 80
  • Hugo Von Hofmannsthal (1874-1929) 88
  • Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) 97
  • Antonio Machado (1875-1939) 108
  • Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) 118
  • Aleksandr Blok (1880-1921) 127
  • Juan Ramón Jiménez (1881-1958) 136
  • Umberto Saba (1883-1957) 143
  • Dino Campana (1885-1932) 150
  • Gottfried Benn (1886-1956) 158
  • Georg Trakl (1887-1914) 166
  • Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) 173
  • Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888-1970) 181
  • Pierre Reverdy (1889-1960) 190
  • Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966) 197
  • Boris Pasternak (1890-1960) 206
  • Osip Mandelstam (1891-1938 215
  • César Vallejo (1892-1938) 225
  • Marina Tsvetaeva (1892-1941) 234
  • Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930) 243
  • Paul Éluard (1895-1952) 259
  • Eugenio Montale (1896-1981) 266
  • Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936) 276
  • Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) 284
  • Jorge Luis Borges (born 1899) 292
  • George Seferis (1900-71 ) 301
  • Salvatore Quasimodo (1901-68) 308
  • Lucio Piccolo (1901-69) 316
  • Attila József (1902-37) 324
  • Pablo Neruda (1904-73) 333
  • René Char (born 1907) 344
  • Cesare Pavese (1908-50) 351
  • Yannis Ritsos (born 1909) 360
  • Octavio Paz (born 1914) 368
  • Johannes Bobrowski (1917-65) 376
  • Paul Celan (1920-70) 383
  • Vasko Popa (born 1922) 392
  • Yves Bonnefoy (born 1923) 400
  • Yehuda Amichai (born 1924) 408
  • Zbigniew Herbert (born 1924) 416
  • Joseph Brodsky (born 1940) 424
  • Bibliographies 432
  • Index 461
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